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Measuring Illicit Arms and Financial Flows: Improving the Assessment of Sustainable Development Goal 16

Measuring illicit arms and financial flows: improving the assessment of Sustainable Development Goal 16
Publisher: SIPRI
SIPRI, Stockholm:
July, 2019

Target 16.4 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Develop­ment Goals aims to, among other things, ‘significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows’ by 2030. Indicators have been agreed for measuring the achievement of this target. Data­-collection efforts have been launched for arms flows while work continues on finding an agreed definition and measure of illicit financial flows. However, discussions about the progress made on defining indicators for illicit arms and financial flows and the relevant data­-collection efforts have taken place within their respective communities of expertise.

This paper seeks to make links between these pro­cesses by providing an over­view of the different stages of progress and the difficulties encountered in developing definitions and collecting data. In doing so, the paper pays particular attention to the work carried out in Latin America and the Caribbean by regional organizations, states and non-­governmental organizations to collect data on illicit arms flows and the lessons these efforts provide for target 16.4. The paper concludes by offering recommendations on how data collection for indicators on illicit arms and financial flows could be improved and how additional regional and national indicators could be developed.


Dr Mark Bromley is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Dual-Use and Arms Trade Control Programme.
Dr Marina Caparini was until recently a Senior Researcher and Director of the SIPRI Governance and Society Programme.
Alfredo Malaret is an Associate Research Assistant with the SIPRI Dual-Use and Arms Trade Control Programme